Eq: Total Market
Bonds and stocks are sending different signals right now, and it is hard to tell which side is correct. Bonds are reflecting an increasingly bearish outlook on the economy, with yields falling. Stocks, on the other hand, have been jubilant so far this year. The reality is that both sides cannot be correct. Historically speaking, bonds have usually been more astute is measuring the direction of the economy and markets, and if that is the case, then we would be headed for a downturn.
FINSUM: The Fed really weighed in with its view yesterday and they are clearly worried about the direction of the economy. Are bond investors right again?
Bloomberg has put out a very bearish article on the economy. The publication is arguing that there is a 2/3 chance of a recession beginning this year, and that a bear market is likely to happen alongside it. As evidence of the pending downturn, the article cites these as indicators: the nearly inverted yield curve, the big fall in stocks in Q4, weak housing activity, terrible February payrolls, and the fact that the rest of the world is slowing. One of the most acute worries though is that the Fed will keep hiking as part of an effort to leave itself room to cut rates in the next recession, an action which could drive the economy into a recession.
FINSUM: Again, much of the direction of assets and the economy depends on the Fed’s mindset. If the central bank returns to hiking, a recession looks like a sure thing. But if not, it is far from certain.
If you have doubts about where the market is heading and no fundamental view about direction, one place to search for one is in historical parallels. Sometimes looking at history prompts bullishness, but in this case, looking for past market parallels is terrifying. At the moment, the chart making the rounds is one comparing the current S&P 500 to 1937. Doing so makes it look as though the market is going to revert back into a bearish grip at any moment. But guess what, the same chart floated around in 2010, 2013, and 2015, and the big fall never happened.
FINSUM: This bull run has defied gravity many times, and it is hard to see why his time would be different. That said, all good things must come to an end at some point.
Big bank Credit Suisse thinks the stock market rally will keep going. They say the big gains this year are mostly because of improved investor sentiment on the back of a more dovish Fed, weaker inflation, and the better prospects for a US-China deal. Further, the bank’s chief US equity strategist says “Our work indicates that investors have not fully re-risked portfolios following 4Q’s turbulence—despite a sharp decline in volatility and spreads—and that valuations will drift higher as they do so”.
FINSUM: We have to tentatively agree with this view. Sentiment is up, and combined with lower valuations and the fact that investors have not fully re-entered the market, there does seem to be a good runway higher.
Well, it has finally happened, but not as anyone expected. The whole industry has been watching for the first zero fee ETF, which just happened with SoFi, but now they are getting the first negative fee ETF. While zero fee index mutual funds debuted last year, ETFs only just got there, until the debut of the SALT Financial Low TruBeta US Market ETF. For every $10,000 invested in the new fund, the issuer will pay you $5. However, as you may have expected, there is a catch. The catch is that once the fund gets over $100m in AUM, its regular fee of 0.29% kicks in.
FINSUM: This is nothing more than a sales gimmick (and they haven’t even structured it well). However, it is indicative of the trend things are heading in.
In one of the most alarming bits of news we have seen about the economy is some time, new data out on the hiring market is showing a bleak trend. The US economy almost failed to produce any new jobs in February, with the total job creation figure at just 20,000. That is a major step down from the hundreds of thousands of new jobs investors had been used to seeing each month. The number is a meteoric fall from the 311,000 created in January, and way under the forecast of 180,000. Following the data, a senior member of the Fed reiterated that the central bank should take no actions on rates until at least the middle of the year.
FINSUM: This is very scary, but there is an important motto to remember here—one point does not a trend make.